Last Updated: March 27, 2023
Healthy vision is an important part of a child’s overall well-being, allowing them to succeed in their everyday activities in school and on the playing field. As a child grows, their vision demand increases with a greater amount of workload, smaller fonts on reading materials, and participation in more advanced sports activities. While vision based skills are more noticeable in the classroom and at school, they may be apparent in extracurricular activities as well.
Keep an eye on the following activities your child may be participating in for clues that they may be experiencing a vision problem:1-3
In addition to having 20/20 eyesight, reading also requires the eye to focus, track, and coordinate together along with the use of reading comprehension skills. Watch for signs of a lack of interest in reading, holding reading materials too close, losing their place while reading, complaining of seeing double, or using a finger to track where they are on a page.
Specific visual skills such as good depth perception, wide field of vision, effective hand-eye coordination, and visual-motor reaction time are useful when participating in sports. Clues to a vision problem may present as frequently bumping into objects, hitting the rim of a basketball hoop consistently or delayed swinging at a baseball.
Squinting, tilting the head, closing one eye or sitting too close while watching TV can be signs that point towards a vision problem.
With an increased dependency on digital devices in the modern age, children often spend too much time in front of the computer, smart phone, and tablet. Taking regular breaks according to the 20-20-20 rule from prolonged screen use is key to avoid digital eye strain and other vision problems. Look for signs of eye rubbing and excessive blinking which could be due to dry eyes from staring at the screen. Poor sleep and headaches are also cues of inappropriate screen time.
Although refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism can often be the culprits for learning and skill development issues,4-5 there are many other causes as well. These causes may include problems with accommodation, visual perceptual skills, and other eye disorders affecting vision. In addition, Children with vision problems can be misdiagnosed with ADHD.6
As a child grows, so does their eyes. Children with vision problems are oftentimes unaware of it unless detected through an eye exam. Yearly eye exams for children between the ages of 5-19 with an optometrist is an important part of monitoring their eye health. Infants should have their first eye exam between 6-9 months, another eye exam before 5 years old, after which yearly eye exams follow. Visit your local optometrist to learn more about your child’s eye health.
- Scheiman M & Rouse M. Optometric Management of Learning-Related Vision Problems. Missouri, Mosby Inc, 1994.
- Vaughn W et al. The association between vision quality of life and academics as measured by the college of optometrists in vision development quality of life questionnaire. J Am Optom Assoc. 2006;77(3):116-123.
- College of Optometrist in Vision Development. Signs & symptoms of learning related vision problems.
- Shankar S et al. Hyperopia and emergent literacy of young children: pilot study. Optom & Vis Sci. 2007;84(11):1031-1038.
- Harvey EM et al. Reading fluency in school-age children with bilateral astigmatism. Optom Vis Sci. 2016;93(2):119-125.
- Haber JS. ADHD: the great misdiagnosis. New York, Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003. P48.